I’m undertaking a public service today to remind everyone that you still have a month to prepare for the next great extended American holiday. That time of list-making, overeating, joy and yes, sometimes, disappointment when you don’t get what you want.
Yep, March Madness commences March 19 and stretches to April 8. Even if you are a non-believer, you can’t escape the extensive commercialization of this national observance. The illicit pools, the bragging, trash-talking and gatherings invade offices and homes, and clutter up your Facebook news feed.
Speaking of feed – where two or more gather in the NCAA’s name, there must be offerings.
As part two of my public service, I’m going to offer you a few ways to lighten up some of the normal sports indulgences. There are two reasons for this: a) If you indulge for nearly three weeks of games, it will look like you actually swallowed a basketball and b) some people are still trying to honor their New Year’s resolutions or get ready for shorts weather.
Either way, they still want something spicy and delicious to dive into when the action gets intense – or boring.
Of course, the most obvious steps would include commonsense substitutions, such as popcorn instead of popcorn chicken or baked corn tortillas instead of fried. But we need to step it up a notch to counter the effect of all those dips, crockpot concoctions and manly, meat-laden experiments. So, for the next four weeks, I’ll add a lightened-up recipe of our favorite TV snacks to the bottom of this column. That gives you time to test them out and see if they pass muster.
And – I’m just sayin’ – you don’t need to tell any of your fellow watchers what you’re up to. You want them to taunt the opposing team, not you. You can take pride in the fact that, like a good team manager, you’ve watched out for your team’s well-being without receiving the attention that coaches get.
Let’s start with an obvious offender, the ubiquitous Buffalo Chicken Dip, laden with blue cheese dressing and cheddar. This lighter recipe is still satisfying, but lacks the oil slick that forms on top of the original recipe. Serve it with pretzel crackers for a fantastic snap.
Three-pointer Buffalo dip
2 9.75 oz. cans of white-meat chicken, drained
1 8 oz. can of water chestnuts, drained
3/4 cup of your favorite Buffalo wings sauce
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the water chestnuts in half. Combine them with the chicken and sauce in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with blue cheese, then cheddar, and bake 20 minutes, until cheddar is bubbly.